In this Blog:
- The History of Super Bowl Ads
- Worst Super Bowl ads of 2024
- Wakeen’s picks for best SB ads of 2024
This year, even more so than others, the Super Bowl isn’t just a football game; it’s a cultural phenomenon that extends far beyond the field. One of the highlights (besides Taylor Swift) of this mega-event is the eagerly anticipated commercials line-up. Over the years, Super Bowl commercials have evolved significantly in terms of creativity, costs, and strategy. Let’s take a journey through the history of Super Bowl commercials and rank this year’s winners and losers.
In the early years of the Super Bowl, commercials were relatively simple and straightforward. Advertisers focused on promoting their products through traditional means, emphasizing key features and benefits. The $42,000 cost of a 30-second national spot during the first Super Bowl in 1967 may seem modest compared to the $7 million that advertisers will pay in 2024, but when you consider that the average cost of a new home was only $21,000, it was still a significant investment.
As the Super Bowl gained popularity, advertisers began to recognize the unique opportunity it presented to captivate a massive audience. With millions of viewers tuned in, companies started investing heavily in the production of creative and memorable commercials. The costs of airtime skyrocketed, reaching millions of dollars for a 30-second slot.
During the 1980s and 1990s, brands pushed the boundaries of creativity, giving birth to iconic commercials like Apple’s “1984” and Coca-Cola’s “Mean Joe Greene.”
As the stakes and costs of Super Bowl commercials continued to rise, brands sought new ways to capture the audience’s attention. The inclusion of celebrities became a popular strategy. A-list actors, musicians, and athletes were featured in commercials to add star power and appeal to a broader audience.
Notable examples include Cindy Crawford’s memorable Pepsi commercial in 1992 and Michael Jordan teaming up with Bugs Bunny for Nike in 1996. These star-studded ads not only brought attention to the products but also kept viewers engaged as they eagerly anticipated which celebrities would make an appearance.
Moreover, the Super Bowl has also provided a platform for startups and lesser-known brands to make a splash on the national stage. Success stories of companies like GoDaddy, which launched its brand through controversial and attention-grabbing Super Bowl ads, demonstrate the power of the big game in propelling brands into the spotlight.
With the advent of the internet and social media, Super Bowl commercials transcended their 30-second time slots. Advertisers began releasing teasers and extended versions online ahead of the game, generating buzz and anticipation. This shift allowed brands to maximize their impact and engage with audiences on various platforms.
Today’s Super Bowl commercials are often part of integrated marketing campaigns, incorporating social media interactions, hashtags, QR codes, and online voting. Advertisers aim not only to entertain during the game but also to create a lasting digital trail.
Super Bowl commercials have come a long way. The journey from simple ads to star-studded, digitally integrated campaigns reflects the changing landscape of advertising and consumer engagement. As we eagerly await each year’s commercials, one thing is certain – Super Bowl advertising will continue to captivate audiences and set new standards for creativity and marketing innovation.
That being said here is how brands faired in 2024 according to the Wakeen Team:
2024 Super Bowl Losers:
Temu: Temu had an opportunity to make a big splash on the largest stage, but running the same commercial in 3 different spots did not maximize their dollars or make the impact they hoped for.
Popeyes: Shirtless, half-defrosted Ken Jeong, covered in wing sauce…need we say more?
Homes.com: Apartments.com announced their sister brand homes.com through 3 UFO filled spots and not a single one was out of this world.
Lindt Chocolate: It was exactly what you would expect from a Lindt Chocolate ad, and it was not worth the investment from the brand as it was lost in a sea of cameos and large production value.
Starbucks: Similar to Lindt, there is something to be said for a strong brand commercial, but those dollars could’ve been put to better use on an integrated strategy.
Uber Eats: Uber Eats made an attempt to become larger than quick food delivery. Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer’s presence alone should have sold it, but the nuance of this ad was likely lost on a large portion of the viewing audience.
Stok Cold Brew: Anthony Hopkins…creepy. Mascots…creepy.
Before we dive into to our favorite ads of this year’s Super Bowl class, here are some honorable mentions that just missed our list:
Budweiser: Leveraging tradition with the Clydesdales was definitely a welcome sight.
HOKA: It appeared as a “our shoes make you feel like you’re running on air” cliché, but the tie-in to the flying V in their logo at the end left a lasting impression that was very on brand.
Paramount +: As the host network, they had a strong presence throughout the entire game. From the “add to list” ads promoting their library of shows to Patrick Stewart throwing Hey Arnold up a mountain.
2024 Super Bowl Winners:
Dunkin: Heavily tied to their Boston roots and star-studded, this ad was a slam dunk.
Squarespace: Weaving UFO hysteria into something uplifting, funny, and, best of all, that actually makes a case for the product. Take notes apartments.com.
OSS Health: Local commercials deserve some love as well!
Etsy: How do the Americans repay the French for the Statue of Liberty? Etsy gifts. Wonderfully creative and told a clear message about Etsy’s gift feature.
BMW: There’s only one Christopher Walken and one BMW. It wasn’t what you expected to see from the luxury car brand but it landed perfectly.
Instacart: The song was catchy, they had a Super Bowl tie-in, and didn’t use any celebrities or big gimmicks to sell their brand, well done.
Google Pixel AI: This spot was touching and clearly displayed how the product can improve the lives of consumers. Providing value always wins!
He Gets Us: Spread love not hate. A great reminder through moving imagery.
T-Mobile “Audition”: Had this aired after Dunkin, it might not have landed the same, but it was familiar celebrities having fun while promoting the brand and we liked it.
Doritos: This one has gotten mixed reviews, but as a perennial advertiser, we liked that they chose to highlight a different product from their catalog, and let’s be honest the dueling grannies were fantastic.
KIA: Another one that tugged at our heartstrings and was an excellent use of storytelling.